In June, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed nearly 100 bills into law aimed at protecting medical marijuana patients. Among them was one from Rep. Mandie Landry (D) to provide workplace protections for state employees who are registered as medical marijuana (MMJ) patients.
However, some employees expressed concern that they could be fired or face other work-related repercussions for testing positive.
A new statewide panel, made up of three subcommittees from the Task Force on Employment and Medical Marijuana, is now seeking solutions to this potential problem that will protect workers and employers.
How Strictly Can The State Regulate The Private Sector Regarding Medical Marijuana?
Created through a study resolution authored by Rep. Landry, the Louisiana task force is looking at the laws in states where MMJ is legal and which have enacted laws that protect employees from discrimination or adverse consequences for using medical marijuana patients. They will then draft proposals for the State Legislature to consider.
"Most companies have no social or moral opposition to medical marijuana and just don’t want to be held liable for a worker who might be intoxicated or discrimination against," said Task force member Troy Prevot, a physician assistant who conducts employment drug testing in the Baton Rouge area.
“I think many employers don’t really care (...) They just want to be able to protect themselves in certain situations,” Prevot said, adding that many workplace policies and government regulations are outdated and still based on the mistaken belief that a positive drug test is an indicator of intoxication.
"A person who smoked a joint a month ago can test positive on a hair follicle drug screen and be deemed intoxicated even though they are not," he continued.
Moreover, Rep. Landry also authored a state law that prohibits employment discrimination against state employees who use medical marijuana. The law took effect on August 1 but does not apply to the private sector.
According to the Louisiana Illuminator, some private companies have already gotten ahead of lawmakers in eliminating testing for cannabis.
Cannabis Regulations At Workplace In Other States
Recently, the Washington D.C. Office of Employee Appeals (OEA) ruled in favor of a government employee and medical marijuana (MMJ) patient who was fired after being suspected of intoxication in the workplace and who subsequently tested positive for marijuana in late 2020.
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